By Lee H. Saunders, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO, Calif. (NNS) -- A Navy Lt. competed in the ultra-marathon San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run to honor fallen service members, June 12.
"I completed the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance Run after 31 hours and 32 minutes of continuous forward motion in the Laguna Mountain Recreational Area, and on the Pacific Crest, Noble Canyon, and Cuyamaca Trails 10 miles south of Julian, Calif.," said Lt. Paulstephen Chierico, Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) officer with Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Public Works Department (PWD). "The temperature swing over the entire event was dramatic, from a high of 77 to a low of 37. I started at 7 a.m. on the 11th of June and ended the next day at 2:32 p.m. on the 12th of June. There were 175 entrants, but only 106 finished the course, so that's about a 40 percent dropout rate. Also it was not only 100 miles in duration, but the sum of all the elevation change was nearly 25,000 feet."
Chierico, Camp Pendleton PWD military construction program manager, is competing for more than the personal challenge of completing 50 and 100 mile ultra-marathons. He is also competing to raise money for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. military and the families of deceased and injured service members.
"I was running the Oriflamme 50K trail race on March 19th, 2011 and while running it struck me that I was only really doing that for myself, for my own fitness goals and to expand my endurance limits," said Chierico. "I was inspired by stories of Navy SEAL David Goggins and Marines Rob Hillery and Mosi Smith, and thought that if they can run to raise money for worthy military charities, then so can I."
He contacted two charities that support injured service members and the families of injured and deceased service members about the possibility of raising money for their charity work. Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (IMSFF) and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) agreed to let him run under their names to raise funds.
"I gathered a lot of strength and motivation from knowing that I was raising funds and awareness for both the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors," said Chierico. "I know that injured service members and bereaved dependants have sacrificed so much for my freedom and liberties that I enjoy, I just wanted to do some small thing to give back to them. It pales in comparison to the trials that they face on a daily basis, but it's my expression of support for them."
IMSFF is a nonprofit corporation that provides immediate financial support to injured and critically ill U.S. Armed Forces members and their families. TAPS administers free emotional support programs for families of deceased U.S. Armed Forces members.
"I see a lot of parallels between life in the military and ultra-marathon events like that," said Chierico. "Throughout you have to remain focused on the end goal, regardless of the pain or discomfort of the moment. Also, I had a great crew of officers from work helping me throughout the event, so you learn to rely on and trust your team mates."